AUSTIN, Texas– The trio of pole vaulters are the first to advance to the NCAA Championships next month for No. 9 Arkansas Razorback women’s track and field at the NCAA West preliminary rounds, at Mike A. Myers Stadium, in Austin, Texas.
"We are on a roll," head coach Lance Harter said. "We had a great day. Our three vaulters advanced to Eugene. We have three in the quarterfinals of the 400 meters and that’s an extra bonus. Our two 400-meter hurdlers advanced and they made huge breakthroughs there with personal bests. We are thrilled with how today went and we need to keep this momentum going."
Sophomore Tina Sutej led the way in the pole vault with a second-place finish and a clearance of 13-9.25. Senior Janice Keppler also cleared 13-9.25 and finished fifth. Senior Katie Stripling was 10th with a clearance of 13-7.25. All three will compete at the NCAA Championships, in Eugene, Ore., June 9-12.
"I’m just so excited we all advanced through to the NCAA Championships," Sutej said. "It was a long day of vaulting and we just needed to stay focused. We’ve competed as a group all season and we’ll get to stay together at NCAAs, too."
The Razorbacks also advanced a trio of student-athletes to Friday’s quarterfinals in the 400 meters. Junior Shelise Williams won her heat and finished second overall with a season-best time of 52.15. Freshman Regina George won her heat and finished fourth overall with a personal-best time of 52.60. Senior Karen Thomas finished 24th overall with a personal-best time of 54.41 and was the last to advance to Friday’s race. Junior Edina Brooks was 43rd in 55.82.
Sophomore Brittany Hyter and freshman Leah Orley will run in Friday’s quarterfinals in the 400-meter hurdles. Hyter was 13th overall and third in her heat with a personal-best time of 58.67. Orley was 12th overall and second in her heat with a personal-best time of 59.44.
Sophomore Kristen Gillespie finished sixth in her heat and 24th overall in the opening round of the 1,500 meters. She clocked a time of 4:24.49 to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals. Sophomore Samantha Learch finished seventh in her heat and 28th overall with a time of 4:26.99 but did not advance.
Freshman Stephanie Brown won her heat of the 800 meters and finishedthird overall. She advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals with a time of 2:06.84.
Competition at the NCAA West prelims will continue at 5 p.m. on Friday with the opening round of the 100-meter hurdles.